STUART BROAD produced one of the hottest of his hot streaks as England surged towards victory in the First Test.
Broad took four wickets – all of them bowled – and destroyed New Zealand’s top order in their second innings.
Operating with a pink ball under floodlights at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, Broad hit the stumps of the Blackcaps’ top three – Devon Conway, Kane Williamson and Tom Latham.
He became the first England bowler to bowl the opposition’s top three in a Test innings since the legendary Fred Trueman in 1960.
Broad also bowled first innings centurion Tom Blundell and had figures of 4-21 by the time his opening spell ended.
At the close, New Zealand were 63-5 in pursuit of a distant victory target of 394 and England will surely on day four complete their tenth win in 11 Test since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took charge of the team.
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A lot of people were talking and joking about Broad’s role as the self-styled Nighthawk – basically, a nightwatchman who comes out slogging instead of blocking.
Broad was dismissed in the third over the third day for just seven but his real job is with the ball – and he did it spectacularly.
He found irresistible rhythm and confidence in his first Test since missing England’s 3-0 series victory in Pakistan in December because his fiancée Mollie King was giving birth to their daughter.
Top batsmen are not meant to be bowled very often but Broad’s control of line and movement regularly found a way through their defences.
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He and Jimmy Anderson now have 1,005 wickets in Test matches they have played together – and are moving away from the previous record of 1,001 held by Aussie duo Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
Broad’s performance comes after mutterings about whether he deserves a place in England’s first-choice XI for this summer’s Ashes when the likes of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood return.
At the age of 36, Broad is clearly determined to have a big role against the Aussies.
The other wicket to fall came when Ollie Robinson had Henry Nicholls caught behind.
Broad’s remarkable assault with the ball followed another brutal display with the bat by England.
They rattled up 374 all out in their second innings – again scored at more than five-an-over – and that left New Zealand needing 394 to win.
England struck eight sixes, which would be decent for a one-day international innings, with left-arm pacer Neil Wagner regularly punished for bowling bouncers. Wagner would finish with figures of 13-0-110-2.
After Broad was bounced out, Ollie Pope, three times, and Joe Root hoisted four legside sixes between them off Wagner in the space of 11 balls.
Pope was caught behind down the legside attempting another pull shot when one short of a half-century. Pope scored at quicker than a run-a-ball but then Harry Brook came in and managed an even faster strike-rate.
Brook kept flat-batting fours and sixes, mainly off Wagner, and his fifty arrived from just 37 deliveries before he was caught at slip.
Root made a half-century from 52 balls but then perished to a reverse shot for the second time in the match with the ball deflecting off wicketkeeper Blundell’s gloves to slip.
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Stokes hit a couple of sixes, the first of which took his Test career total to 108 and passed the world record of England head coach and former Kiwi star McCullum.
Stokes was stumped but wicketkeeper Ben Foakes made a more sedate fifty, Robinson contributed 39 and Jack Leach was last man out.
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